Professional athletes usually become professional athletes because they not only have the natural ability that raises them above normal folks, but also because they possess the innate drive to succeed… or put another way, the need to feed the unquenchable fire of competition.
Long after their professional careers are over though, that fire doesn’t die down to a warm glow. Instead, it usually manifests itself in other pursuits. For Andy Ashby, retired MLB pitcher, the fire to succeed simply shifts to different pastimes including hunting, fishing and golf.
A brief run down of his baseball career:
– One of only 24 pitchers in MLB history to pitch an “immaculate inning” on June 15, 1991, when he was with the Philadelphia Phillies, playing against the Cincinnati Reds (Struck out Hal Morris, Todd Benzinger, and Jeff Reed on 3 pitches each)
– Won 98 games over 13 professional seasons
– Pitched in the 1998 World Series with the San Diego Padres
– Member of the 1998 and 1999 National League All-Star team
– Career stats: 1173 strikeouts and a 4.12 ERA in 1810 innings pitched.
Ashby now lives in Scranton, PA with his wife and 4 daughters and now that the time-consuming world of the MLB is no longer a factor, he spends his days with his family enjoying retirement and all the trappings it affords.
Andy Ashby’s friends describe him as having a never-ending passion for learning and for always having a positive attitude. It is obvious to anyone who spends even a few moments speaking to him about the things he loves as we did when we recently caught up with the former MLB pitcher to get his take on his favorite outdoor pursuits.
Andy Ashby: I fish, I golf, I hunt… and I love spending time swimming… you know pretty much anything that has to do with the outdoors I love.
MLO: Do you do these things with your family or prefer to do them solo?
Andy: Well the fishing I take my kids, going out on the weekends, but they can get burned out sometimes. I do fish alone often.
When we are out in San Diego, we go out on a four-day camping trip with the family. That’s like our dad and daughter trip every summer.
Hunting I go with buddies. I do take my kids sometimes. Everything else I do by myself most of the time including golf.
Oh I do go swimming with the kids a lot, at the beach.
MLO: Out of all those things, what is your favorite?
Andy: My favorite thing is fishing.
MLO: You seem to enjoy it. I’ve seen pictures of you fishing with Mike Long a few times, is Bass fishing predominantly what you prefer or do you go for other types of fish like catfish, trout, etc?
Andy: You know, it’s mostly bass fishing. That’s my number one thing to do. I love hunting, but the fishing is by far my favorite thing to do.
MLO: How old were you when you first started fishing? Who introduced you to the sport?
Andy: Probably about 10 or 12 years old. When I was in Missouri, my family and I used to go to the lake every weekend. My dad would take my brothers and I out to fish.
Andy: Oh my gosh! That’s tough. I love Lake Castaic up in Los Angeles because I’ve caught so many fish there. Mike has taken me to so many lakes, and Lake Jennings is right up there at the top two or three. Yeah, Lake Jennings and Lake Castaic are the top two probably.
MLO: Do you prefer fishing for smallmouth or largemouth?
Andy: You know, I fish for Smallies when I am out here, but I guess it depends on where I am at. When I am in California I love to fish for largemouth bass, but here in Pennsylvania the small mouth are the thing to catch because the largemouth don’t get very big like they are in California. Recently we fished at Lake Wallenpaupack and we caught over a hundred smallies, all of them over a pound or two pounds, some of them upwards of 4 pounds. I’m gonna have to say, I love catching largemouth more better than small mouth, but it really depends on where I am at.
MLO: Have you considered joining the pro tour?
Andy: (Laughs) You know what, I would love to, but if I knew as much as Mike Long about fishing, I think I could do it. But honestly, travelling and being away from my family would be hard. Bass fishing, I hear the professionals talking and these guys fish every day, and they’re gone quite a bit. I don’t know if I am willing to do it, but I would love to do it later on, maybe get into so smaller tournaments, but right now that’s in the real distant future.
MLO: What’s the best advice anyone has given you that applies to fishing or hunting?
Andy: Patience (laughs).
MLO: Speaking of which, the last time I tried talking to you for this interview, Mike told me you were out deer hunting, sitting up in a tree blind.
Andy: Yeah. I was sitting up in a deer stand for about 12 hours.
Andy: Well, you know, you kind of text every once in a while to let everyone know you didn’t fall out of a tree or anything. Otherwise you’re just sitting there trying to be quiet. Really you’re just sitting there waiting for the moment, just like waiting on that bite, you know?
Fishing is a little bit different because you can actually cast and do something. The hunting is obviously different because you have to wait for the animal to come to you. I think the main thing is just patience and try different things. You know, you see Mike Long, and I know I bring up Mike quite a bit, but he has taught me a lot about trying different things because you never know what’s gonna work.
MLO: What is your favorite bass lure?
Andy: I would have to say the Senko.
MLO: What is your favorite style of fishing?
Andy: I fish a lot of plastics, so slow retrieve stuff is something I like more. I think you catch a lot more and bigger fish that way. I do a lot of night fishing so slow retrieve works a lot better in that environment.
MLO: How would you compare fishing and major league baseball?
Andy: Anything in life, I think you have to be patient and you have to believe in yourself, trust what you are doing. When I am on the mound I have to trust what i take out there is going to get these players out that day. When I am on the lake, I have to believe in what I throw at the fish and have confidence that it’s gonna work.
MLO: When you were playing how often did you fish when the team traveled?
Andy: When I was in LA, I would fish every night when I knew I had four days off. So I would fish 2 or 3 days in a row. When we’d go on the road trips, I would try to fish, definitely Houston, chicago… I would definitely fish once or twice, but it was harder because you didn’t want to carry all that gear on the road with you. I would try to fish four or five cities throughout the season.
Andy: As I kid, growing up, it would have to be George Brett. As a player, just being around somebody, I had the privilege of playing with guys who are in the Hall of Fame now. Dale Murphy helped me out a lot. Terry Mulholland, Bruce Ruffin, because these are the guys who were around when I first came up. Kevin Brown, Trevor Hoffman, we all played together. There were so many guys who influenced me just playing with them, at different parts of my career.
MLO: Who did you enjoy fishing with?
Andy: Kevin Brown, Mike Long obviously, I fished with Bruce Ruffin a few times, and Tony Gwynn a lot. Brad Ausmus I fished with a lot in San Diego. Bruce Bochy is a big fisherman.
MLO: How did it feel to be on camera fishing with Randy Jones?
Andy: You know, it was awesome. I wish we would have caught more fish on camera. I enjoyed the pressure of trying to catch fish on camera. It was so funny though because I caught four fish off the dock and we caught one on the boat when the camera was rolling (Laughs). It was all good though. It was pressure, but it was fun. It was my first time fishing on camera, so it was a good first experience. Randy is a good guy!
MLO: When you fish do you still have the same competitive fire as you did when you were on the mound?
Andy: Yes. Definitely. I usually want to catch big fish and if someone is catching fish and I’m not, I’m like, “what in the world is going on?” It’s funny. You fish with Mike though and you learn to accept you’re gonna get beat every time in the boat.
MLO: Do like night fishing, or daytime fishing better?
Andy: You know what? I like night fishing. I just a really enjoy it. Obviously I fished at night into the mornings because I had to be at the ballpark in the daytime. It was, more or less, the time that I had to go fish, then sleep a little bit, then be back at the ballpark for a game.
MLO: Do you think you’ll ever burn out on fishing, or have you in the past?
Andy: No. I know that the time I have doing it is special. It is like a stress relief for me. And my wife is like, “you have no patience for doing stuff around the house, but you can sit out in the woods all day long or fishing all night long, I don’t understand it!”
It’s a relaxing thing for me. On the Golf course, I snap every once in a while, but fishing and hunting part of it relaxes me. It’s a peaceful time for me.
MLO: Making multi millions in Baseball you can fish anywhere you want in the world, so what is your game plan for the future?
Andy: You know I’d love to go to Mexico and fish El Salto. Ten pound fish there are like two pounders everywhere else. El Salto would be cool and I’d also love to go out and fish for Peacock Bass because they get huge and fight like crazy. Definitely the Peacock Bass and Mexico are on my bucket list.
MLO: What is the largest bass you have ever caught?
Andy: 14 lbs, 3 oz.
MLO: What bass have you caught in your life sticks out the most and why?
Andy: That fish sticks out because it was the biggest I caught, but I remember watching this 10 pounder swim back and forth. I’d throw a bait out there and it would go out and come back to it and never hit it. Finally I threw out the right one, I think it was a curly tail worm, and she hit it. You know I tried for this fish for over an hour and I finally caught it and it was a ten pounder. It was awesome, because she didn’t want to hit what I was throwing, but I stuck with it and put something on there that made her mad enough to want to bite it. There’s different memories but that was kind of cool. It’s similar to being out on the mound with a 3-2 count and trying to figure out how to get that batter out. I had to figure out how to catch that fish, and kept throwing until I got what I wanted.